Apple’s recently released iOS6 update includes several significant changes to its mobile operating system. One of the more notable changes is the inclusion of the new Apple Maps app, which replaces Google Maps as the standard mapping program.
It’s unclear why Apple decided to drop a proven solution in favor of their own variant, but many suspect Apple wanted to replace a key component of their iOS software; a component that was supplied by a major competitor. Another theory is that Google changed their licensing terms which made including Google Maps as part of the new iOS cost prohibitive.
Regardless of the reasoning, the swap is complete. The tried and tested Google Maps app is no longer part of the iOS package. Apple’s attempt to replace Google Maps has been met with mostly unfavorable opinions among iOS users.
Apple has a track record of changing the way people use technology. Apple’s recent hardware and software developments have provided the consuming public with several examples of well-integrated, highly polished and very functional mobile devices.
This trend does not apply to the recently released Apple Maps.
Apple has produced a mapping application that looks great. The interface is highly polished and intuitive, exactly what we have come to expect from recent Apple products. The functionality of the app is what has Apple iOS users confused.
The app has been described as lacking, with unfinished functionality. The basic functions of a mapping app are present, but many of the features that users have come to expect from Google Maps are missing. Other features are implemented so poorly that they’re almost useless. Apple has released what feels like a first generation mapping application, similar to what Google Maps was like in its early days. Many users feel that considering Apple is on a 6.0 operating system; their mapping app could have been more complete before release.
The truth is it falls short of the removed Google Maps in many ways.
Much of the confusion stems from Apple Maps’ decision over which features (landmarks and neighborhoods) are labeled on the map. Zooming in to a city shows that obscure places are labeled, while prominent areas are left out. The same strange choices are applied to landmarks. However Apple Maps decides which areas and objects to highlight has left many users questioning the usefulness of the app.
Apple Maps also has a problem with street addresses. It knows where you are and will give you the correct location. The broken functionality shows when you try to find an address. It often mixes up cities and boroughs when searching for a street address. It will match the street name and address with what you want, only in a different city. Entire neighborhoods are misrepresented and it one situation, a major city is misnamed.
Google’s Street View has become a popular and relied upon feature of its mapping application. Apple’s attempt to duplicate the functionality with its Flyover feature is a good first attempt. Like Street View, it’s likely to take Apple just as long to develop it into a fully functional feature. As of now, it’s limited to a few select cities and not particularly useful.
Google Maps was useful for more than driving directions.
It was a useful tool for those on foot and those who frequented public transit. Those same users are reporting that public transit information is completely missing from Apple Maps, making it necessary for users to use their web browser to obtain limited functionality from Google Maps.
For those who use their mapping application as a GPS in their vehicle, Apple’s onscreen display is also lacking when compared to its competition. The fonts are too small making vital information hard to read. Speed limits are missing and there is no easy way to replay missed voice commands.
Apple has also attempted to include shared traffic information within its mapping software. Users are still unclear on what Apple’s implementation of a red dotted line is trying to show. Compared to the useful shaded areas on Google Maps, the dotted lines are not particularly useful for avoiding traffic.